- The Law Firm of Holland & Hart Announces New Global Climate Change Practice – The firm is the first and only law firm based in the Rocky Mountains to organize a practice group concentrating on this rapidly emerging area of law and policy. Holland & Hart’s Global Climate Change Practice Group consists of attorneys who counsel clients on the climate change aspects of energy and natural resources development, industrial energy use, regulatory compliance, renewable energy and energy infrastructure projects, corporate disclosure and governance, carbon markets, litigation, and government relations.
- New Resource Bank Aims to Make it Easier to Build Green – A new banking program here aims to encourage developers and investors to start green building projects by offering financial incentives like providing more money at a lower cost, higher loan-to value, and lower interest rates.
- Texas Issues First Lease for Geothermal Energy Exploration and Development along Gulf Coast – Texas has awarded the state’s first lease for geothermal energy production to Ormat Technologies, Inc., which plans to explore the renewable energy’s potential along seven Gulf Coast counties. The company paid $55,645, or $5 an acre, for the right to explore 11,129 acres for pockets of hot water and steam under the ocean floor, the General Land Office announced Tuesday.
- Building Greener and Cheaper than LEED – While many argue over the costs and benefits of requiring LEED-certification, some affordable housing developers have shown that building green doesn’t require following the program’s recommendations.
In Portland, Oregon, there’s a sustainable development called The Headwaters at Tryon Creek, which is a 2.88 acre, master-planned, mixed-income community that prioritizes sustainable building practices, energy + water conservation, wildlife habit restoration, and stormwater management. One portion of the development includes the Dolph Creek Townhomes, which are 14 for sale, attached townhouses that are LEED Silver, Energy Star, and Earth Advantage certified. Quite the list of certifications! These luxury townhouses vary in size from 1,585 – 1,695 square feet, and in price from $369,950 – $379,950…purchasers qualify for the State Residential Energy Tax Credit.
In addition to saving up to 45% on annual energy costs, here are some of the green features: solar panels with 80 gallon storage tank, energy efficient windows, green label carpet, formaldehyde free cabinetry and wood products, heat recovery ventilators, on-demand gas and solar water heating, polyfoam insulation, exhaust fans in all the garages, drip irrigation system, and low-flow toilets, showers, and water faucets. Of course, the floors will be bamboo (hopefully not the Chinese import variety) and the patio will have ipe hardwood decking. From what I’ve seen, this looks like quite the community.
Going green isn’t all that difficult when sustainability is woven into the fiber and fabric of your company’s existence. There are a few companies in the business world that survive on a green business strategy. Right now, it might be a niche play, but things change as everyone else comes around. Minto is a Canadian real estate company with a history of quality, green developments. Green is in the company’s fabric. In 2006, Minto received the Canadian LEED Silver for MintoGardens (Toronto), a 34-story condominium complex. Now, they’re going after another LEED certification with MintoSkyy. Minto builds to LEED standards to "promote healthier living, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save residents money, and contribute to a healthier planet."
MintoSkyy is all about living in a modern, sophisticated environment with expansive windows and breathtaking views. In addition, suites will have individual meters for water and electricity (you pay for what you use); energy efficient thermal windows; an "all-off" switch at the front door that lets you leave knowing all the lights are off; and energy efficient appliances. Minto also has a rigid common area management system that minimizes consumption of light and energy resources. Also, the building will rely heavily on recycled materials, environmentally friendly paints, and a green roof (which reduces heating + cooling costs). Located at Broadview + Pottery Road in Toronto, this 23-story condo tower looks pretty good to me. :: Minto ::
Here’s the situation. You have two new 15-story buildings in a good location near downtown. Both buildings have received several inquiries from potential tenants. Building #1 is a traditionally-built, modern facility. Building #2 is similar, but it’s green (LEED-CS + LEED-CI). A lease for 40,000 square feet of space at #1 is $35 and #2 is $36.50 per square feet. Would you pay the extra $1.50 per square foot to lease space in the green building? We’re talking about a serious premium. I’m interested to hear what your perspective is on this.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, these rents are justifiable for a few reasons. I’m going to clip out a few comments from their article, but feel free to read the entire thing.
- Organizations with business models reflecting sustainability will be more likely to pay the premium.
- Although green buildings are going up at an incredible rate, most of these are for use by the owners and most developers view speculative green developments as risky.
- There is a dearth of tenable green lease space and requests for green space are falling on deaf ears.
- The market is tenant driven right now and tenants have had success cooperating with owners to make green improvements or renovations.
I think there will be a paradigm shift, but I don’t know how it will happen. Somehow, the values of individuals and organizations need to shift towards an appreciation of sustainability, and that will create serious, mainstream adoption of green buildings. Maybe the impetus will be regulatory? Self-imposed? Strategic? I learned in Starting a Business 101, that some of the best opportunities in business become available due to a void or an absence in the market. If it’s true that some customers and tenants are requesting green space, but the inventory isn’t available, there’s a void in the market that will be filled by the first innovators. The rest will wake up some day and think, "I thought green buildings were for hippies?! What’s going on?" Which is partially an answer to my post the other day. Via Appraisal Podcasts.
Jeriko is Different… Design… Strength… Green… Flexibility… Living. Jeriko House: It Lives in you
Jeriko is Different… Design… Strength… Green… Flexibility… Living. Jeriko House: It Lives in you. Today, New Orleans-based CEO of Jeriko House, Shawn Burst, announced his company’s plans to enter the modular/prefab home building market with 5 different models (each with an infinite number of configurations). Burst teamed up with a German engineer to use a patented, interlocking aluminum framing system–one that is strong enough to meet the strictest U.S. earthquake and hurricane building codes. The plumbing, appliances, lighting, hardware, interior finishes, and exterior cladding are all integrated into an advanced structural system through the collaborative efforts of a team and network of design/construction professionals. Starting at $175 per square foot, a Jeriko House will have such luxuries as Asian teak wood finishes, coconut skin walls, Indian rosewood door handles and stone, and marble + ceramics from around the globe. Homes will also include "biometric systems and homeowner-friendly technology." Bourne-style, I presume.
The first home will be completed in New Orleans and the company anticipates orders of 100 more relatively soon. Actually, they’re taking orders right now for May delivery. Their website says a purchaser is responsible for permits, site work, foundation, plumbing, electrical, HVAC rough in, and landscaping. Shipping is included in the cost of the home, and Jeriko will help you build it.
Straight from the website: "We feel it is our duty at Jeriko House to take a leading role in the efforts to save our planet. Sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental friendliness are at the core of our beliefs. With a R&D team searching the globe for the latest and greatest green innovations and technology Jeriko will fulfill its roll as a socially responsible company at the forefront of the Green Revolution." I like what Jeriko’s saying, but we can’t forget that acting locally, rather than globally, has its green benefits as well. Also, take a look at today’s press release. For every 10 houses sold, those 10 owners form a committee that votes to give a Jeriko House to a family in need somewhere in the U.S. I think Jeriko is taking an innovative perspective to all facets of the business and can’t wait to see the first home! Maybe I’ll just drive down and see it when they’re done.
Taking a page from local developer Harwood, it looks like Hillwood decided to throw its hat into the green development ring with One Victory Park. 1VP is a 20-story, 450,000 square-foot, LEED-Silver office building slated for completion in 2008. I’ve read a few conflicting reports on the actual details of the building, so we’ll have to watch and really determine the true specs. Hines + Hillwood will be co-developing the project, which includes a Two Victory Park that seems identical to 1VP. Boka Powell is the lead architect with Austin Commercial as the general contractor.
1VP already has a tenant for six floors of the building. Haynes and Boone recently announced that it would relocate from the Bank of America tower (tenant of 22 years), retaining Gensler as the interior design architect. A recent news article pointed to suggestions that all the offices would be the same size, meaning senior and junior attorneys would be indistinguishable according to office size. Why? Efficiency and money savings. Use your imagination on this one. Image via.